The pioneering designs of Thomas Miller

Motorola, Bauer & Black, and 7 Up—just some of the names that Thomas Miller worked on during his career at Goldsholl Associates. He’s also best known for his mosaics in the lobby of the DuSable Museum of African-American History in Chicago. The Black American designer worked on everything from logo design to animation, but, like many of his peers in the 20th century, his journey was fraught with racism:

“I had to be super-qualified,” he told Fitzpatrick. “I took things in art that weren’t necessary, like airbrushing and retouching and things you didn’t have to do because I wanted to be prepared in case someone would ask me to. They couldn’t use that as an excuse for me being not qualified.” In the design profession, he discovered another rigid color line: a racism more genteel than a Klan march but no less degrading for the young professional. The Ray-Vogue School, for instance, limited the number of Black students who could enroll. On the job market, Miller experienced racism in moments that could have come from the pages of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. “You’re very talented,” one prospective employer told Miller. “Too bad you are so dark.” Another suggested he could work but only behind a screen, out of sight from clients. 

via AIGA Eye on Design

AIGA awarded Miller the 2021 AIGA Medal for his pioneering work in the design industry.

Read more about Thomas Miller on the Chicago Design Archive website and SoulFul Design.

Star Trek + Design: a site dedicated to collected Star Trek memorabilia

Garak, Captain Janeway, and Chakotay holding a MGMug designed by Michael Graves for Alessi.

We have quarantine to thank for this awesome Star Trek fan site from “long-time Trekkie and new-time collector” Eno.

Star Trek + Design began as a personal quarantine project in March of 2020, a little over a year since buying my first Bodum Bistro (Picard Cup) set. I’d just been laid off from my job due to the pandemic, and found myself spending far more time watching Star Trek than I had when I was employed. Being drawn to the aesthetics of Trek, especially of The Next Generation, made me curious about the specific objects that set designers used to create the visual embodiment of what living and working on a starship would look like in a technologically-advanced, post-scarcity future. I’d already known about the contributions of Carsten Jorgensen (Bistro Cup), Maurice Burke (TOS Tulip Chair), and Joe Colombo (Boby Cart), and decided to research the other designers whose work may have been used.

100 incredible 3D renders of a person walking

Top 100 3D Renders from the Internet's Largest CG Challenge | Alternate Realities

A few months ago, pwnisher challenged 3D artists to create an animation of a person (or humanoid at least) walking forward but that humanoid was demonstrating some difficulty in doing so. Sorry, I suck at describing it so you’ll have to watch the above video. 2,400 artists entered and the video shows the top 100 who were chosen. 5 lucky applicants won prizes from Rokoko, Wacom, Quixel, PNY, and Aftershokz. Watch the top 100 above.

The world is full of talented and creative people.

Massimo Vignelli and Matej Latin say you only need 5 fonts

Vignelli once said that our growing collection of fonts represented “a new level of visual pollution threatening our culture. Out of thousands of typefaces, all we need are a few basic ones and trash the rest”. Of those few, he selected 5:

As for Matej Latin, his 5 were:

He then left a template for anyone to pick their 5 using “a geometric sans serif, a high quality serif for long text, a workhorse font, a web safe font, a variable font”:

If you take a closer look, you’ll notice that this list of types of fonts aligns perfectly with my own “5 fonts” list. Gilroy is a geometric sans serif font that I really like because it feels modern (unlike Futura which may look dated in some occasions). Meta is my high quality serif font because it’s really well designed, it works really well for paragraphs and has many OpenType features like ligatures, alternative digit styles and much more.

Roboto is a typical workhorse font family. It comes in many different styles and weights and is very well designed. It consists of a sans serif, a slab serif and a mono style and can be used for anything from long paragraphs to UI labels and code snippets.

Work Sans is a variable sans serif font that I really like. It’s highly legible, even at smaller sizes which makes it great for UI design. The fact that it’s variable means that I can match various weights to get a good balance between font sizes which helps my UI designs look slicker.

And the last is Georgia, an underrated web safe font. It looks quite modern which is fascinating, because it was designed a while ago. It comes with old style figures, often called “lowercase digits.” That makes it great for paragraphs, especially when I need to save a few kilobytes. I have been saying this for a while, web safe fonts don’t suck. They’re completely free as we don’t need to pay to use them and they also don’t add any weight to our websites so they load faster. More on web safe fonts another time.

My 5 essential fonts are:

That list isn’t laminated but it covers most of my favourite fonts that I use the most. Gibson is the main heading font for Sampleface (my music blog) and I use it as the main font in one of my favourite games, Championship Manager 01/02. Helvetica is Helvetica and while it’s overused elsewhere, I like to use it in certain situations and as body text when I can. Cooper Black is iconic and great for titles when you need a bit of versatile flair. Georgia is a great web safe font and alternative to using sans-serif fonts. Finally, I picked Univers because I like its print heritage and its form and I’ve used an alternative version called Fluxisch Else for many album covers over the years to emulate that scruffy printed feel.

Jyni Ong on the Syrian Design Archive

A Syrian Arab Airlines ticket with English and Arabic writing on it.

For It’s Nice That, Jyni Ong spoke with Kinda Ghannoum, Sally Alassafen and Hala Al Afsaa, founders of the Syrian Design Archive. The archive documents the vibrant graphics from the Arab world and celebrates one of the most popular writing systems in the world:

“Syria is a country of rich history and culture,” says Hala. “It is also a country with a broad range of cultural activities in modern history such as printing, journalism, theatre and art. Those factors put together, positively affected the graphic design practice in Syria and gave it a rich visual heritage.”

A study into the fonts used by the top 1,000 websites

Data scientist Michael Li studied the top 1,000 websites and the fonts they used to spot any trends in layouts, design choices, and colours and “to better quantitatively understand the world of web design”. I recommend you check to the whole study but I’ll pull out a few things I found:

  • The most popular number of fonts used in the font-family stack was 2 (so, something like { font-family: Arial, sans-serif; })
  • 14px and 16px are the most common font sizes for paragraph text
  • For headings, “designers choose to use a larger size more often than a heavier weight (94% vs. 82%), but they often use both (76%)”

Nothing too surprising if you know about web design. Sans-serif fonts are most common and paragraph text is most often used at the standard size of 16px (or 1em/rem) and most sites don’t go for a large font stack. For this site, I use a system font stack with a lot of fallbacks for all devices, should my custom font not work for you.

Font related: Helsingin Sanomat’s ‘Climate Crisis’ font that shrinks with the Arctic sea ice, 10 alternatives to Helvetica, and the history of Times New Roman.

Setups: a collection of creator workspaces and tools

If you’re still working from home, doing a hybrid thing, or looking to work from home in the future, you might need some inspiration for your workspace. Setups is a “repository of workspaces, items & tools from the creator community” and could be the answer.

Product designer Siddharth Arun put it all together and takes submissions for the site.

There’s also an Items section that displays the various pieces of tech people use.

Follow @setups_ on Twitter or @setupsco on Instagram for updates.

Los Angeles' new tourism logo looks super cool

Apparently, locals are divided over the new logo but I like it and Rob Beschizza made a good point about its implied “specific synth baseline”.

The logo was designed by House Industries and Studio Number One, which was founded by artist Shepard Fairey.

“When you say ‘Los Angeles’ it doesn’t necessarily mean just a city,” Fairey said. “It’s a whole mindset, a vibe, a culture. And as an Angeleno, it was exciting to me to take on the creative challenge of designing a mark representing all the things that Los Angeles means to people.”

Quote from CBS

Very 80s, much synthwave, wow!

(via Boing Boing)

Reagan Ray's Marvel superhero letterings

I love these Marvel 3D-letter designs by Reagan Ray which he explained in a recent post:

I just started getting into comic books for the first time a few years ago. My son was interested as well, so we started making regular trips to the comic book store (pre-covid, of course). We loved looking at the artwork and lettering of the older comics. And like most lettering, right around the late 90s, it all went to shit. The hand-lettering masterpieces were abandoned for fonts and photoshop effects. With that said, I limited this post to the pre-’00s. I wanted to do something more vintage, but there are just too many from the 80s and 90s that I love. My absolute favorite was seeing all the interpretations of 3D type.

They’re all amazing and I’d wear each and every one of them on a t-shirt.

12 objects unnecessarily covered in gold

I like gold pens and I once had a gold cover for my Game Boy Color which I loved. But a gold AK-47? A gold Porsche? Why? I guess rich people would reply “why not?” and to that I say, pay your taxes.

iPods, Nikons, vibrators, Hummers someone has released a really crass gold plated gadget for the arms dealer market. Gizmodo suggested the gold plated shuffle “signaled the downfall of civilization”, vote according to which item you think is the most revolting.

(via oobject)

Helsingin Sanomat's 'Climate Crisis' font weights shrink with the Arctic sea ice

Climate change font graph

Helsingin Sanomat is Finland’s largest subscription newspaper, based in the nation’s capital, Helsinki. In response to the growing climate crisis, the publication created The Climate Crisis Font, a variable font with weights that change gradually but dramatically:

The font’s design is based on data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (https://nsidc.org) and predictions provided by the IPCC (https://www.ipcc.ch/srocc/). The heaviest font weight represents the minimum extent of the Arctic sea ice in the year 1979, when satellite measuring began. The lightest weight represents IPCC’s 2050 forecast, when the Arctic sea ice minimum is expected to have shrunk to only 30 % of the 1979 extent.

The Green Experience

Green is the colour of Kermit the Frog, Mike Wazowski, and two-thirds of Nigeria’s national flag. It’s associated with nature, fertility, tranquillity, money, good luck, health, movement, and ecology. It can also signify illness and envy. Grass is green, the Chicago River is green once a year for St. Patrick’s Day, many political parties are green. Great gardeners have green fingers, inexperienced ones might be greenhorns, and jealous ones might be green-eyed monsters.

Green is my second favourite colour behind red (sorry, blue, you’re in 3rd place now!) thanks to Sporting CP. Green is also a traditional colour in Islam, associated with paradise in the Quran.

A passage from the Quran describes paradise as a place where people “will wear green garments of fine silk.” One hadith, or teaching, says, “When Allah’s Apostle died, he was covered with a Hibra Burd,” which is a green square garment. As a result, you’ll see green used to color the binding of Qurans, the domes of mosques, and, yes, campaign materials.

via Slate

J. Milton Hayes’s “Yellow God” had a green eye (likely an emerald), Andrew Marvell’s “The Garden” said “No white nor red was ever seen / So am’rous as this lovely green.”, and D. H. Lawrence said the dawn was “apple-green”. Aliens are often green, little, and men for some reason.

The green room is where performers wait before they go on stage, there are at least 250 films in Letterboxd with “green” in the title including Green Book, Green Lantern, The Green Hornet, The Green Mile, and 17 films simply called Green.

Green and gold go together perfectly in a room and green Victorian tiles adorn many London Underground corridors (but not Green Park’s for some reason).

Judy Horacek and Mem Fox asked “Where Is The Green Sheep?“, Dr. Seuss wrote about Green Eggs and Ham, and Hemingway talked about the Green Hills of Africa (specifically East Africa). Kermit sang it ain’t easy being green, Tom Jones sang about the green green grass of home and Beyoncé gave us the green light (as did John Legend).

In art, you have Karel Appel’s The Green Cat, Lilian Thomas Burwell’s Greening, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Queen Green, and Jean Gabriel Domergue’s Green Park. There have been 3 green colours chosen as Pantone’s Colour of the Year between 2000 and 2021 (the most recent was emerald in 2014).

There’s a lot of love about green.

Solange turns Saint Heron into a multidisciplinary creative agency

Exciting news for Black and Brown creativity:

Originally launched in 2013 as a digital hub for cultural conversations, Saint Heron’s mission has been to preserve, collect, and uplift stories, works, and archives that amplify Black and brown voices. Now, in its next phase, it will release a dossier of literary and visual retrospectives of Black family and artist lineages through a series of temporary digital exhibitions, viewable on the Saint Heron website. Available for seven to 10 days, they will offer an in-depth look at emerging talent across art, sculpture, photography, design, and artisanship. 

How to make a Hey Arnold! skateboard

Making A Hey Arnold Skateboard!

North West Decks tried his hand at making a Hey Arnold! skateboard using some cool-looking decals. Before watching, I assume the decals were complete with the outlines and the colour but they were separate, meaning you need a steady hand and an eye for detail. The result is the coolest thing this side of 1998.

Follow North West Decks on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.